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Credit card terminals come in a variety of options, ranging from the traditional counter unit to an attachment that plugs into a smart phone. Selecting the best credit card terminals for a business depends on a variety of factors such as cost and convenience of use. The type of business plays a role in the type of terminal for usage. What works for one retailer will not work for another. Determining what makes the most sense requires looking at how the business performs its transactions.

Mentioned previously, the most well-known type of credit card terminals are the countertop models. They are inexpensive, reliable and functional. Refurbished models are even more inexpensive, making the threshold to accept credit cards feasible for many businesses. However, the use of countertop terminals are for swiping cards a majority of the time. If a card fails to read, the merchant can key in the numbers, but the processor may charge extra for a manual entry. Countertop terminals are also limited to sitting on top of a counter and are not supposed to be moved from location to location. They are best for a business that has a permanent cash register setup.

A business that doesn’t have a permanent location, such as a renaissance faire retailer or a bead show vendor, is best served by portable terminals. There are two types of portable credit card terminals suitable for this purpose; one style that attaches to a smart phone and a portable, self-contained cellular unit. Each are two completely different machines that perform the same function. In the case of a self-contained cellular unit, the merchant can hold the unit in their hand when swiping the card and running the transaction. This type has a thermal printer built into the unit, providing a copy for a signature and receipt. Some portables have a touch screen for signature capture. These units make a secure cell phone call to process the transaction.

Card swipers that attach to cell phones offer the ultimate in portability. The cell phone is slotted into the unit, the card is swiped, software on the phone captures the information and the phone makes a call or uses an Internet connection to process. There is no physical receipt, but an emailed receipt is usually available. Choosing between the best credit card terminals is up to the individual to determine what makes the most sense.

These three types of credit card terminals are the most commonly available products for a physical card swipe. Once you have decided on which type of terminal makes sense for your business, it is simply a matter of purchasing a unit.